Koether Wins Court Ruling in House District 55 Race Dispute

The race for Iowa’s House District 55 may not be settled just yet.

Democrat Kayla Koether of Decorah won a court ruling on Monday that gives her the right to determine whether 33 absentee ballots were mailed on time.

Koether sued election officials who refused to count the ballots, saying they lacked a postmark that would indicate when they were mailed. The ballots do contain a postal bar code that Koether says Iowa law allows to be used as proof of mailing.

Incumbent Republican Michael Bergan leads Koether by nine votes in the district, which covers Clayton, Fayette and Winneshiek counties.

A judge ruled Monday that the Winneshiek County Auditor should check the bar code on those uncounted ballots to determine if they were mailed by the November 5th deadline.

State Solictor General Jeff Thompson was the legal representative for the Iowa attorney general at Monday’s executive council meeting.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate says he certified the results with Bergen winning, but the judge’s order says Koether can contest the election, which means a winner will not be seated until the ballot dispute is resolved.

The judge ordered the ballots preserved, scanned by the Postal Service and a date of mailing determined by Wednesday. That information must be provided to the court and the attorneys by Friday.

Koether has until Christmas Day to decide her next step. She could file an appeal to the Iowa House, asking lawmakers to order the uncounted ballots be counted – if she does, it would be the first time in state history a candidate has made such a request.